New speaker to Legislature: Let's work together
During his speech to the the Minnesota House's 134 members on Tuesday, newly elected Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, stressed the need for lawmakers to work together.
"Let's talk about the problems (citizens) care about and let's roll up our sleeves and work together for a solution that best suits them," Daudt said.
Minnesota Republicans officially took control of the Minnesota House on Tuesday with a 72 to 62 majority, bringing an end to two years of all-DFL rule in St. Paul
It's clear there are some major disagreements between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to the issues. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has said he plans to unveil a $6 billion transportation funding package funding in part by a 6.5 percent tax on fuel at the wholesale level. Newly sworn-in Rep. Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, said she agrees the state's transportation needs must be addressed, but she wants lawmakers to focus on setting priorities as opposed to raising taxes.
"I don't see the necessity to tax people more. I think people have been taxed plenty," Bennett said.
Rochester DFL Rep. Kim Norton said the biggest sticking point when it comes to transportation is trying to find a way to pay for the upgrades that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle can get behind.
"That's up in the air as to will we at the end of the day be able to come up with something we agree on as far as a funding mechanism," Norton said.
Dayton also declared in his inauguration speech earlier this week he wants education to be a priority when lawmakers are deciding how to spend the state's projected $1 billion budget surplus. Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, said she agrees that education should be a primary focus but simply increasing funding for education is not enough.
"We know funding alone is not the answer. Just investing more in the same ways we've always done it might very well end up getting the same results," Nelson said.
Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Chairman Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin, said he sees an opportunity for lawmakers to do a better job making sure students are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow. It's an issue he said his committee will spend a lot of time working on.
"We will look at some new ideas to help employers form stronger relationships with our schools to make sure we are preparing those young people for the jobs that are waiting for them," Sparks said.